Professor Siobhan O’Neill, the newly appointed Interim Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland, has encouraged everyone to ‘Connect’ to help prevent suicide and raise awareness of suicide prevention and the support available.

Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on Thursday 10 September, Professor O’Neill highlighted to the public the ‘Take 5 Steps to Wellbeing’, along with the mental health benefits of applying these to our daily lives. The 5 steps are: Connect, Be active, Take notice, Keep learning and Give.

In particular, Professor O’Neill – whose research programmes focus on mental health, suicidal behaviours and trauma – emphasised the importance of connecting with people around us, including family, friends, work colleagues and community. Building support networks enrich our collective wellbeing.

Commenting ahead of this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day, Professor O’Neill said:

“Across the world, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds. On Thursday, people will come together in solidarity and spread awareness of how suicide can be prevented. In Northern Ireland, we continue to have rates of suicide that are higher than any other UK region and this remains very concerning. As Mental Health Champion, I will drive forward the actions within the ‘Protect Life 2’ Suicide Prevention Strategy and ensure suicide prevention is considered in all key policies. 

“I am passionate that we encourage everyone to look after their mental health and become our mental health champions, and in doing so look after ourselves and support others. ‘Take 5 Steps to Wellbeing’ is a set of tools we can all use daily, to help care for ourselves. As someone who uses these for my own wellbeing, I know they make a difference,” Professor O’Neill added.

A wide range of resources and self-help guides to support mental health and wellbeing are available on